Saturday, December 31, 2005

Raise a glass to the New Year!

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

And remember, it's not blood, it's just the cranberry.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa. And we need him!

Growing up in Leave It To Beaver land, you would think that my Christmas experiences would have been idyllic. They were and this year was no exception. My sister hosted a lovely Christmas Eve fete at which we consumed several glasses of merriment (pomegranate martinis, who knew?) and played some of our new games. It is unbelievable how many bodies they have found under hotel beds while investigating “a strange smell”. At least according to Urban Myth.

Next morning it was, if I dare say, a spectacular brunch put on by yours truly – while wearing my new Tiffany bracelet. I do have to apologize to my guests though. I just found the dill that was to go with your eggs benedict and smoked salmon. So sorry. But the hollandaise sauce from scratch was delicious none the less.

We then loaded the car with ourselves and more gifts than one aught reasonably have, either to give or receive, and headed for my brother’s in Fenelon Falls. It was gorgeous. The snow was all but gone in the city but they still had over a foot on the ground. We exchanged a few gifts, drank, ate, opened more gifts, had more food and drink and then had dinner – cigarettes and chocolate milk and all that.

Emily (the best niece ever) then took us on a walking tour of town (her paper route really) that ended with a viewing of Fenelon’s Christmas lights. I tell you what; Norman Rockwell could not have painted a more perfect picture. Being cut from the same cloth, Emily and I decided to engage the others in a fight of the snowball variety. We ran ahead, hid, prepared a stash of snowballs and waited. It didn’t last long and as our stash vanished, we used my mother as a human shield. Like I said, the same cloth and I think it was yellow.

We capped the evening with several night caps and a rousing game of Rumoli. I was then off to bed and I still had visions of Sugarplum dancing in my head. I speak here of the Sexy Santa one, not the candied kind. “This is what life should be like always” I thought. My dreams of peace and goodness did not last long.

This morning we had a huge family breakfast (I mean there was copious amounts of food, not that we are huge in numbers or size) and then loaded the car with more parcels and packages than we had arrived with. As we drove out of town, I was glad to see that the shops were closed and that people were out spending time together. People need more than one day of to spend with their family and friends. Getting closer to the city however, I noticed full parking lots and “open for business” signs.

I have to admit that we stopped at a Tim Horton’s. As we stood in line I overheard (it was impossible not too) a man yelling at the manager that the drive-thru people had put cheese on his bagel when he had not asked for it. How could they screw up such a simple order? I say ‘screw up’ he used much more colourful, less festive, language. He demanded a business card and stated that the manager “would hear from my lawyer about this.” As he got back into his car and slammed the door I couldn’t help but think so much for goodwill towards men. And Bah Humbug too! Maybe he should have his Tim’s under the Bodhi tree.

It was just a slip though. A blip on the radar. I refuse to give in. It can’t be that bad. Santa will be back to spread the cheer soon. At least I hope he will be. Let the countdown begin! Only 364 days to go. Sigh. Until then, I guess it is up to us.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cheesie Carnage

As I youngster, I was a poster child for the Aryan nation - white, blond and cute as a button. But we all know things are not as they appear and I was not without my flaws. Well flaw anyway. I had an addiction to junk food that I would do just about anything to satisfy. The reigns on Pop Shoppe pop, chips, chocolate, cookies etc. were held fairly tight. Unlike our Italian neighbors who had Coke on the table for dinner (I know, can you believe that? Lucky bastards) we had water. In retrospect I appreciate it (yes, parents really do know best) but it was tough when all you had was a dime for an allowance and penny candies started to cost a nickel. (Well in my day…..)

Company coming was a good indicator that the sugar floodgates would open. At least temporarily. One fine summer day, my cousins came for a visit and we were playing out back – no video games for us. I went in for a drink – water of course (they didn’t make us use the hose when we had company) – when to my delight my mother handed me a bag of cheesies to ‘share’. Yeah right.

With a flutter of my eyelashes and a small courtesy to mother, I obediently returned to the backyard. With a stopover at the backdoor. I tore open the bag and proceeded to have my fill. Having gained satisfaction of one sort, I went after another. Rather than just give the cheesies to the others, I thought ‘what fun a little game will be.’

Now keep in mind, even though junk food consumption was restricted at my house, we at least got dessert every night with dinner. My cousins didn’t even get that. So when I popped open the door and yelled “cheesies” the result was instantaneous. Like a herd of pigs to the trough, the kids came a runnin’.

My cousin John was clearly going win this little race. Just before they reached the door I, being the little shit that I was, pulled it shut. I had hoped for a few cracked skulls and squeals as my siblings and cousins tripped over one another. What I didn’t expect was John’s arm to come through the glass door resulting in a scar that he has to this day.

As the blood poured forth both John and I thought we were going to get in trouble. Me for, well, you just read it, and him for breaking the window. Thinking he could cover up the crime, he ran for the sandbox and buried his arm to hide the blood. Not a good idea. Aside from the fact that it was used as a litter box by neighborhood cats, filling an open wound with sand is, well, unadvisable.

He of course did not get in trouble nor, miraculously, did I. John was whipped off to the hospital for stitches and then taken out for ice cream. The rest of sat home and ate cheesies and steered clear of the sandbox.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Squish squish darling.

After watching BrokeBack Mountain (at the risk of sounding cynical, why did they not take the father-in-laws money and move to, I don't know, San Francisco?) I felt like Tony Curtis trying to seduce Marilyn in Some Like It Hot. “Like my heart had been shot full of Novocain. I felt nothing. Numb.” People all around me were sniffling, crying and carrying on all sorts. As I sat in this sea of Kleenex consuming blubbering Mcblubbersons, it hit me that I don’t cry. Very often.

My ex accused me of being too stoic for my own good. I disagree as I am not “indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain” - I just don’t show it through a salty discharge on my face. What can I say, I am a WASP, I just don’t do that. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just don’t. In fact I bet I can count the times I have shed tears on my fingers and have digits left over.

Not included of course are the years of non-stop (according to ALL my relatives) crying from birth until say the age of 2. My earliest crying memory has me running into the kitchen in my Cub uniform (something that survived my recent purge because of my merit badges - one for sewing and one for housekeeping, Good Lord, how many clues did I need?) hamster in hand, stiff with rigor mortis, screeching “Hammy is dead!” That hardened me to pet death. I went through numerous hamsters, a guinea pig, 2 birds a family dog and several of my sister’s cats without shedding a tear. They all received a proper burial in the backyard, cigar box where applicable, and I planted flowers on the grave, but I did not water them with tears.

Physical pain makes me cry. Even there though, I can only think of one time. I got caught between a curb and cement truck making a right turn. Suffice it to say that my bike peddle pierced my calf muscle and tore it in two. I cried - but also swore at the driver so loud that on lookers were shocked at the foul language coming out of my mouth more than the carnage. I hobbled up the street and collapsed on the ground as the truck continued to pummel my bike. The driver didn’t know if he was still on me or not and kept backing up and going forward trying to free me. There’s one guy you don’t need in an emergency. I told the police my mother was shopping at a nearby grocery store and they went to get her. The cashier had her paged and when she heard of my fate turned to the police officer and asked “well what am I supposed to do with all these groceries?” Talk about WASP.

Incident three is pet related also. When I moved overseas, I had to give away my beloved 80 lb lap dog Loofah. She went to a lovely family that had a Doberman too and loved her to pieces. The day I dropped her off I collapsed into Barbara’s arms saying “she better look after my dog or else.” Aunt Shyla (the pimp in the doggie exchange) later told me Barbara didn’t know what to do with this 190 lb man that was threatening her but crying at the same time. Sad.
Then there was ‘the’ funeral. See entry on my Grandmother’s funeral. But that is the only one I’ve cried at. I guess I am too busy thinking about the egg salad sandwiches.

But the jewel in my crown was an appalling public display on an airplane. Despite my reaction to BrokeBack Mountain (along with numerous other ‘tear jerkers’ - Titanic, Moulin Rouge, Steal Magnolias, The English Patient -not only didn’t cry, hurry up and die already, my ass fell asleep 20 minutes ago) one movie did bring me to tears. There is no excuse, but there were several contributory factors. I had just spent two weeks in the Guatemalan jungle, stopped in Los Angeles for 3 days to visit my friend Sarah and had consumed 6 Bloody Mary's. Plus champagne. And a Bailey’s on ice. The air mattress made me do it! Anyway, the in flight movie was, get ready for it, Independence Day. I know. I am the first to say it - pathetic. When Randy Quiad’s (also in BrokeBack, weird) last missile misfired, and he realized he had to sacrifice himself for the good of the American Empire, he says “tell my children their father loves them very much.” Well, that was it. I am not talking a few soap opera tears here, I was in a pool in my seat. I was like Nelly Olson, Tanya Harding and Jerry Falwell all rolled into one. Did I mention I had already seen the movie? Twice? Like I said, pathetic.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Removing the yoga pickle

Please enjoy this condensed version of a Christie Blatchford article about her recent trip to a hot yoga class:

Remember said the yoga instructor, “While we should breath together and work together, this class is about you. Concentrate on yourself. This is about you finding a place that is challenging. Focus on yourself.”

I was, at that moment, in a room crowded with Lululemon-clad women and three handsome young guys wearing nothing but swim trunks, everyone of them aggressively waxed and gleaming such that they looked like canoes. I have more hair in a single nostril than was on the sum total of the 25 or so bodies in that room.

“Lady,” I yearned to shrill, is there even a snowball’s chance in hell the people in this room have ever not focused on themselves, will not focus on themselves, do not focus on themselves always, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else?”

The class was all of 30 seconds old. I’d been straightened out 10 minutes before it started.

My friend Karen and I had arrived early. We were in the midst of an urgent discussion as we walked into the room, laid out our mats. A young woman approached us and whispered, “Would you mind not talking? I am preparing for class.”

Shocked into silence, I watched her prepare, thinking I might learn something.

She lay down on her back, shut her eyes and appeared to go to sleep. Well, I already know how to sleep.

The instructor said “make sure you can catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, so you can check your position.”

Oh fat chance. Have you ever tried to get mirror time in a room jammed with people who wax themselves stupid? When they weren't’t admiring their poses, they were on the hunt for stray hairs.

I am never going back. I am going to burn my Lululemon pants. I am going to let all the hair on my body grow until it stops of its own accord, and then I think I may make a hat.

The article is hilarious (although I disagree with Ms. Blatchford’s view that yoga is not a workout on par with a spin class) and if you can find it in its entirety, enjoy. (Globe and Mail Oct 22/2005) As I read it I was not only laughing (a lot at myself as I am one of those searching for stray hairs and pushing back my cuticles, when they are so moist from class, they slide right back!) and finding validation for my upcoming class - “Yoga Without the Pickle.”

Why pickle? Two reasons really. First, when you order a burger you can get it with ketchup or you can get it with the works including a pickle on the side. (See most recent Harvey's commercial) To me, the pickle in yoga is the need to have that perfect mat, the perfect clothing and a deep posture - a need that is unnecessary. Yoga is about you and the intention YOU set, not what someone else sets for you. Grab your mat - old and tattered or new - and comfortable clothing and go for it with a SMILE (remember the point of this blog?).

To that point, I feel that yoga is beginning to get a bad name because a few people have a pickle up their butts about it. One bad pickle spoiling the barrel and all that. Do pickles spoil? Once again, remove said pickle and you (and others) will enjoy it a lot more. If it is a spiritual, emotional or physical experience for you, enjoy it for that.

I start instructing in January and am VERY excited (read nervous) and hope I can convey this message. I have been doing yoga for four years and am now making the leap to teaching. While I have made great strides on several fronts (physical and, for me spiritual) I still laugh (yes Christie, in class) when asked to bend a certain appendage this way or that. I think in my first class I should twist into some posture and fart or belch just to set the tone. I hope ya’ll can join me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The choice of fine funerals everywhere

Yesterday at work was a yawn. One of those all day training sessions - telling me how to manage my people to higher performance. Personally I like to keep it simple, work or get fired. Kind of ironic that I am typing this at work. The highlight of the day (as is usual with these things) was lunch, specifically the egg salad sandwiches – one of my favourite comfort foods. I mentioned to my co-workers that they – the egg salad sandwiches, not the co-workers – reminded me of funerals and that I hadn’t been to a good one in a while.

Call me crazy, but I like funerals. They are a chance not only to bid a fond farewell to someone close - bit like a cruise really – but also reminisce with people rarely visited or long forgotten. “Can’t you do that at a wedding?” one of my lunch companions asked. True, but it is different. Weddings are restricted by a guest list and there is a joyous expectation about them. Funerals are open to anyone who has access to the obituaries and you never know what is going to happen. You may get nothing or you may get someone like myself putting on quite a show (see the entry about my Grandmother).

You also get to sing and who doesn’t like that? I can’t carry a note any better than I can carry a football, but much like the shower, cathedral ceilings make me think I can. Throw bagpipes playing Amazing Grace in the mix and you have the makings of a lovely melody. I only wish more people would perish at sea. I really like singing Nearer My God to Thee as well. Maybe if I’m lucky that’s how I’ll go. Going down with the ship, playing bagpipes and singing. Then again, maybe not.

My favourite part of a funeral though comes after the interment. Everyone retires to the church basement for sandwiches (if you’re lucky, they cut the crusts off) prepared by the woman’s auxiliary, and other light refreshments. It’s often like a proper afternoon tea. There is something about them making those sandwiches, carefully placing them back in the bread bag, bringing them to the church and arranging them on platters with those little dill pickles that I adore. I draw the line at that pickled cauliflower but bring on the butter tarts and cookies!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My 3-Step Addiction

“Sorry I am so late, lunch was long and I couldn’t find a cab.” Terribly sorry I have been so long in blogging but I have been kept very busy with 2 exams, a job interview and yoga weekend. First things first, during my study breaks I did manage to erect (hee hee) my Christmas tree. It opened to rave reviews and I must say, my favourite ever - green and silver and gorgeous! Martha, call me. We could work some magic together!

Anyho….at this weekends yoga boot camp I found myself having flashbacks to Holy Island. In particular, one post mediation discussion where some pearls of wisdom were dispensed by the Baroness Appleton. I don’t remember the exact words but the gist of it was “love your body the way it is and embrace the changes as you age, forget running out to buy the latest miracle in a bottle.” Now I have to admit that I struggle with vanity and am a slave my Clinique 3-Step. Even in Thailand with wild dogs nipping at my ass I made my way to a river so I could complete Step-1. I have cut out the twice weekly deep cleansing emergency mask and stopped buying Crème De La Mer Eye Balm at $150+ a pop. Baby steps.

I realize that my vanity is buy no means a cheap habit to feed, nor particularly wise. Better than having the fat sucked out of my ass (not that there is any there to suck you understand) and injected into my face I suppose.

Saturday night at boot camp however, has provided me with a cheap and natural way to refresh the old face. Time marches on I say, and lately the parade route seems to be across my face so any help I can get is most appreciated. Suffice it to say that ‘the community’ thought a sing-along would be a good way to celebrate the festive season (Oh for Pete’s sake – Christmas! Christmas season. Call me non-PC if you like) and Mikhail brought his drum to lead us. As he laid it next to the woodstove I asked him what he was doing. He explained that the heat would loosen the skin and then he would stick it outside in the cold and it would tighten up.

Well my mama didn’t raise no idjit! No sir, not this boy. I was on my knees faster than a fat kid on an M & M warming my face by the fire. I then quickly ran outside and gave myself a snow-job. Well smack my ass and call me Judy (actually, you can smack my ass anytime) if the next day I didn’t asked for ID at the liquor store! Hand to God.

Given the parties and soirees over the next few weeks, I am thrilled with this new found regime. Of course people may wonder why I am walking around with a BIC lighter so close to my face. HA! Won’t they be the fools when I rub an ice cube over my face (from my rum and eggnog you see) and voila! – years younger. At this rate I’ll be able to go back to Mrs. McGurdy’s kindergarten class by January. Mid afternoon naps here I come!!!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

A very Gorey breakfast

Saturday night Lord Fauntleroy made us a scrumptious meal of pork roast and roasted vegetables. We started with his homemade quince brandy and finished with glasses of wine. As his Lordship, Kitkat and I retired to the fireside, more brandy in hand, our conversation drifted willy nilly from one topic to another.

We somehow got on the topic of transferring products from their original package to another. Like pouring cheap wine into a bottle with an expensive label to see if anyone catches on (fun) or when you open a cereal box and ruin the bag inside so you have to transfer it to Tupperware for fear of it going stale (practical) or in order to save space you put the last few drops from a Price Club sized laundry detergent in a smaller jar (good housekeeping).

Lord Fauntleroy recalled public service announcements from his childhood warning parents against such a practice. Apparently, people in Scotland would put things like bleach in juice bottles and rat poison in salt-shakers. I guess if you had too many mouths to feed this was a convenient way to “make room at the table.” Having had our fair share of libations, we giggled at our Edward Gorey type jokes about Zilla drinking too much ‘gin’ and putting arsenic in the sugar bowl and watching your unsuspecting children sprinkle it on their wheaties.

Like his Lordship, I too had a flashback to childhood. At the tender age of 9, I arose early (a fine habit that I have to this day) one Saturday to start my day with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Little did I know what a spring it would be! My parents are social creatures and love to have guests round for a nip of some sort or the other. As it happened, they had had a few neighbours over on Friday night and rather than make screwdrivers one at a time, they half emptied a carton of OJ and topped it with Smirnoff.

I am not sure how many cartons of said concoction were consumed, all I know is that there were leftovers. None the wiser, I poured myself my usual and sat down with the Saturday comics. Man were they funny! The juice tasted funny, but I liked it (another habit I have to this day) so I had a couple glasses.

It was a lesson learned for my parents and one that we now laugh about every time we enjoy a screwdriver.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Will I ever learn?

My friends say I have OCD. I say I have good housekeeping habits. I have Martha on my side, who do they have? Oscar the Grouch? A place for everything and everything in its place, that’s what I say. I am a bit extreme perhaps but I guess it comes from having worked at the GAP many moons ago.

I have a folding board for my t-shirts, including undershirts. My jeans are all folded the same way – cuff to back pocket – and neatly stacked. My closet has 3 divisions – pants, casual shirts and dress shirts. The hangers all face the same way and the colours start with white on the right, moving through every hue of rainbow and finishing with black on the left.

There are 16 pairs of underwear in their designated drawer. Enough for 2 weeks (my laundry cycle) plus 2 spare – you never know when you might get caught short. There are 14 pairs of Jockey boxer briefs. 7 white. 7 black. They alternate in the drawer – black, white, black, white etc. – that way I never have to mess the rest to get at the pair I need. There is also a pair of square cut jockey shorts, very supportive of my gluteus maximus and the boys. The last pair (if you can call it that) seemed like a good idea when I bought them. And truth be told, the guy on the box was hot. Fine, I admit it; I got sucked in by the advertising. “Gee, if I buy this, I’ll look him.” I am no better than the pot-bellied beer swigging Joe who really believes Coors Light girls are after him.

Anyway – it’s a thong. Yes. A thong. And let me tell you, it’s a lesson I never learn. If my laundry gets ahead of me, or I have an unfortunate prairie-dog incident, I have to turn to my two back-ups and today was one of those days. The last pair in the drawer – the thong. When I put it on it feels great. There is a sense of freedom and adventure. Not as dirty as commando – dead sexy in jeans by the way – but you still feel like you are getting away with something. No one has any idea how close to your butt they really are. After an hour however, I want to rip that sucker off faster than a Chippendale. I make repeated trips to the bathroom for adjustments.

Of course when I get to the washroom there is no one there so I saddle up to a urinal as that stall latch it too much fuss. Not to mention the germs - it is flu season. Murphy’s law dictates however that just as my elbow reaches my fly and my fingers have hooked the offending garment, someone walks in. What to do? Finish of course. Can’t hurt my reputation that I have THAT much to tuck. Hee hee.

Thankfully my friend Sharron was there to be sympathetic to my pain. That is after she fell against the wall laughing when I told her I wear a thong. Her little “how’s the flossing coming” e-mails but a smile on my face and we both had a good chuckle. I write this as a reminder to myself and a warning to others – thongs are not good things!